This is a video from a Udemy course I created a few years ago to help people maximize their efficiency while working from remotely or from home. Instead of selling it as a paid course, I’m sharing the content here, for free. I hope you find it helpful. -Ron Stauffer
People who work from home, obviously. By its very definition are typically working, using a telephone and a computer and an internet connection. There are some jobs I understand that you just cannot do from home no matter what, but if you are working from home with a computer and an internet connection, it’s important to make sure you are prepared with the right tools.
So. First of all, one of the most obvious things is make sure that you have a really solid internet connection. If you’re going to be making a phone calls online, like through VoIP systems, or you’re going to be doing video conferencing and, you know, maybe doing some streaming or uploading of large files, it’s important that you have.
A fast internet connection. So whoever your internet provider is call them and find out what is the fastest service that you can possibly get for the most reasonable price. Obviously that depends on who your provider is, but make that phone call and then also ask them, tell them what you’re wanting to accomplish, because it may be that where your internet connection is, is way over here.
And where you’re trying to work might be 37 feet this way behind three walls. And it might not make sense to run a cable directly from here to there, or to assume that whatever wireless router they have built into the modem that they provide you, it might not be safe to assume that that’s the best setup.
You might have to set up a repeater station or something like that. So you want to make sure that you’re setting yourself up with the best technology that you can have. And obviously the internet is a huge part of that. One thing that’s really helped me is having wireless printing. I’m a huge fan of having a wireless printer, because what that means is that I can have my family computer in a separate room and me in my room.
And we can all kind of print from no matter where we are. There are some printers you can buy that have wireless printing built into them. There are some printers that you can buy that have certain protocols like air print with Apple devices. And there are some printers that don’t have anything at all, but you can get a little, uh, station that you can plug your printer in and share it on your network.
There are ways to look into that. I’ll share some resources in this course, some links of places that you can look to find. These items to purchase or to kind of set up your home network with whatever it is that you already have. Wireless printing is a huge help to me. Scanning can sometimes be a challenge, but there are apps that you can get where you can literally take a picture with your phone and convert, text and documents that you take pictures of into PDFs.
And let me tell you if you’ve done this in the past and you’ve said, yeah, but the quality is crappy. The quality of these days is fantastic. In my case, I haven’t had a scanner in three or four years. I scan things all the time with my phone. There are also apps you can use to help you use your cloud. If you use cloud technology like Dropbox or box or one drive with Microsoft office three 65, there are ways that you can integrate the power of the cloud and your infrastructure.
As a whole, into a tiny little device that you can use with your hand. Several of the apps that I use currently are things like scanner pro, where I can scan an item with my iPhone and then save it to something like Google drive. Or Dropbox or Evernote. All of these are apps that I use and they’re really good and they’re really fast.
And most of them have a cheap or free level that you can sign up for and give it a try and figure out what it is that you actually want out of an app like that. The biggest thing that I can. Explain when it comes to getting the right apps and software, is that it doesn’t really matter what the name of the app is or the software.
The bigger question is what do you want it to do? What is your personal workflow and yours? Of work. And how can you harness that technology to come under you and help you? So, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make, who try to take their business online is they say, I’m going to get this software service.
And I have to wrap my style of doing business around that app or that service that’s totally putting the cart before the horse. A better thing to do is to. Kind of close your eyes and just take two or three minutes and really envision how it is you do business. How do you work? And then ask the question.
Okay, what kind of software or apps can I add to this to help me make the most of it, rather than having to relearn or learn an entirely new way of doing business? So for a great example, I have some clients who prefer paper. If you like paper, that’s fine. I’m not really a paper person myself. I use it sometimes, but rather than trying to force a client like that into using an iPad with an Apple pencil, let’s say where they’re using a stylist to create things digitally.
You could take a small step towards that by having them write down on a sheet of paper, whatever it is that they want, and then taking a picture of it. With a scanning app and then saving it to a shared folder in Dropbox or something like that. That’s much easier than giving them new hardware and telling them, forget the way that you’ve done business for the past several years.
Try this whole different way. I’m a big fan of. Creating a list of how you like to do things. And then asking the question, knowing that what are the services I can add to make this more efficient, rather than saying here’s a whole suite of software tools, download all of them and use them all. That’s overwhelming and frustrating.
One of the most important business productivity tools I’ve ever used is my iPhone. And it doesn’t have to be an iPhone. It can be an Android phone for me. It’s an iPhone. The power that this holds is unbelievable. You can use an iPhone to do almost anything in your business. Aside from obvious things like checking email and making phone calls.
Those are the basics, but. You can really start to research. What kind of apps or workflows or processes can you use your iPhone to help you accomplish? For a great example. I mentioned that I like to take walks. I frequently take walks during business hours and I’ll think of thoughts about, you know, this project I’m struggling with.
What if I took this other approach that I hadn’t thought of before? Well, I’ll use the notes app in my iPhone to write that down. And then when I get back to my computer, because the notes app synchronizes with iCloud, then it’s also on my computer or I can also record myself. Using the voice memos app, I can say next Tuesday, meet with John and discuss the such and such or whatever.
And then I don’t have to write anything down and it’s a, it’s a hands free dictation device. There are so many things that you can do way too many for me to explain on a video like this. But let me just say, if you have a smartphone find out in whatever way you can, what it’s fully capable of. And then, like I said, Use the list that you’ve created of the way you like to do work, the way that your pro your brain process works, the way you prioritize things, you know, like what’s a day in the life of your work day.
What does that look like? Get a snapshot out on paper. If you have to use paper. You know, take a snapshot of that and say like, well, I need to, I need to send emails. I need to make phone calls. I need to upload PDFs to this such and such portal. Like, just map out what you do on a daily basis, and then start to do some research on what are some additional tools that your smartphone or your iPad, or, you know, software solutions that you’ve never even heard of.
What are some of those tools that you can add to your workflow? There are lots of websites that can help you figure this out. There are app store guides. You can just type in certain keywords into the app store or Google play, and then see what kind of apps are available and then start to determine, okay, would this help me accomplish this task?
Yes. Good with this, help me accomplish this task. Yes, it would, but it’s too complicated. So I’m going to go with this, however that works out. Try to figure out what technology you can use with something like your phone to augment your normal business process. But final thought about hardware and software and apps and technology is it’s very easy.
To get so fragmented with all of the things that you’re doing, that you can’t remember where you put things, the double edged sword of using cloud computing services, for example, or things that synchronize, um, or various apps is that if you have 16 different apps that you use on a daily basis, it can be ridiculously difficult to try and figure out.
I have a note somewhere about a phone call that I had with somebody, but I can’t remember that person’s name. Did I put it in my CRM? Did I put it in Evernote? Did I write it down on a piece of paper and then scan it? And then did I finish that process of scanning that document and actually put that PDF in Google drive?
Or did I put it in Dropbox or did I send that as a draft? Or did I send that as an email or did I compose an email and save it as a draft? It can really make you pull your hair out. Understanding where is all my stuff. That’s why I’m a big proponent of not using technology first, figure out what it is that you do.
And then think of technology afterwards. Don’t sign up for some service just because somebody says, it’s cool. If you don’t need it, don’t use it. If you do need it, use it and use it in a way that’s consistent. Make sure that you have a plan in mind of when I do this, I do this. And this, and then I save this here in this format.
Always, if you can start to map out a process or at least get in the habit of always doing things the same way, you won’t find yourself scrambling on a Tuesday at 1122, knowing that you’ve got a phone call with a client coming in eight minutes, but you can’t remember their name. Cause you forgot to write it down or you did write it down, but you don’t remember where you put it.
So you use technology, but what’s more important. Then using technology is figuring out how you’re going to use that technology and doing so consistently.
Ron Stauffer is a solopreneur and freelancer with over 14 years of experience running a small company. He’s extremely familiar with the loneliness, frustration, and challenges unique to freelance work and running a business of one. He started Free Soloing to help other people just like him.